My poem, “The Juvenile Bear with Gold Earrings,” is now out! Doubly Mad Journal. Summer, 2021.
THE JUVENILE BEAR WITH GOLD EARRINGS
leave strips of trimmed fat
from our pork loins,
along with a discarded Yukon Gold,
laden with generous pats
of sweet cream, salted butter,
and bacon crumbles as we
flee the ashen rain at The Timbers.
The Juvenile Bear with a yellow tag in each ear
swipes the loaded potato
with the skillful agility of a major
Padded paws like mitts, no bone
china is broken.
Poor men scavenge
harvested dirt rows the week before,
gleaning what the Spudnik had not pulled.
Flour sacks heavy with worry and coup,
their tongues click on about the measure of their dogs,
their chickens and their children.
They lift furtive glances toward the red rim
of a distant forest fire that has driven
the bears down the mountain and wonder when
the ferocious raiders will return.
On the dawn of a different day,
a frenzy of hungry bears tore open the belly
of a lame cow. Now shotguns are always loaded,
close at hand, in dusty Ford pickup trucks.
Poor men know what to do with thieves.
The chief chef from Guadalajara at The Timbers
presses his palm against the blade’s back,
opens the tuber as fresh as manioc.
There’s a photo inside his
of his forever-little-girl
whom he hears is all grown up in Mexico.
There’s talk in the kitchen
of a twelve-year-old whose calf was split open
on the wooded trail just above the tree line
by a mother bear.
The child survived.
Gracias a Dios.
The protective bear.
This chef knows survival is the reason he cooks in America.
A blaze roars in the river stone fireplace
at The Timbers. Crystal water glasses shine
in this warmth. Four inches less snow
this season, hardly worth the price of air.
Seconds before, we were driven
in by the sudden occurrence
of frozen rain. It slashes at the blue
There’s a sinking into the pleasures
of the hearth, a return to comfort
and the deserved luxury
of buttering warm bread and tipping back wine.
A child’s gleeful alarm shatters this settling.
“Mommy, look. It’s a bear with gold earrings!”
We crowd the windowpane,
admire the brown beauty’s youthful.
agility, a circus performance, a major leaguer
complete with a yellow tag in each ear.
We snapchat smartphone photographs,
take video with the latest generation
of Cinematix apps, and post on our Facebook Live.
Dancing from plate to plate,
the bear devours what is left of our fled feast.
We recognize its utter devotion to pleasure
and its risk of being labeled “bad bear.”
“Without his mother
he no longer remembers
how to be wild,” says
the chef, who’s emerged from
his kitchen to check on the commotion.
“One more tag and he’ll be shot.”
Waitstaff in crisp white uniforms
clap and stomp the bear back
down wet, wooden stairs
where it’s taken residence under the deck.
The bear retreats, but is drawn by the smell
of French fries, burgers, and ketchup as sweet as honey.
Driven by hunger and insatiable desire,
it charges blindly up slippery stairs
where the memory of butter, pork, and potato
glisters brighter than gold and fire.